Benji Hicks hails from Mount Airy, North Carolina. However, the racer from “Mayberry” has made a second home of sorts on the race tracks of West Virginia.
Hicks has won three FASTRAK Racing Series events in the Wild and Wonderful State over the past two seasons, including the last two runnings of the UBB Miners Memorial 29. The event pays tribute to the 29 miners who lost their lives in the Upper Big Branch Coal Mine explosion of 2010.
The UBB race moves to a new West Virginia venue for 2019, however, taking place at I-77 Speedway Friday night rather than Beckley Motorsports Park. Still, Hicks has plenty of optimism going to the new location.
“West Virginia has always been good to me, between Princeton and Beckley,” Hicks told Speed51. “Going to I-77 is a little something different. Still looking forward to it. I like to challenge myself, not only as a driver but our team, see how we can adapt to a new track.”
Hicks believes he enters the event with a strong baseline setup based on success at local tracks similar to the 3/8-mile oval
“I watched a couple of videos on it, sized it up,” explained Hicks. “My brother is pretty good at the Google Earth deal. He prints a picture of a local track, and a picture of where we’re going, and I base my gear off of that. I don’t call around a lot, find out what people are running there. We go with our arsenal and adjust from there.”
With that said, he knows with the stout competition of the FASTRAK Racing Series, unloading with a good setup and a fast car will be crucial to becoming the first three-time winner of the UBB Memorial.
“We’ve definitely got to be consistent all night,” said Hicks. “Nowadays, if you get behind in any kind of racing early in the night, it’s hard to catch up. We’ve got to be pretty quick off the trailer.
“Hopefully, we’re quick in practice and won’t have to adjust too much in qualifying. If we’re in the first two or three rows, somewhere close to the front, make a couple of adjustments for the heat race, tighten the belts for the feature, we should be alright.”
Race fans unable to make the trip to Ripley, West Virginia for the UBB Miners Memorial 29 will be able to watch the event live on Speed51 as part of Summer Thunder TV, presented by PFC Brakes. Click here to become a Speed51 Premium Member and gain access to more than 70 live event broadcasts this summer.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo